Python washes up as landslides hit Rohingya refugee camps


Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are now sharing their camp with a large python after monsoon rains.

Monsoon rains have started to batter Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, bringing devastating floods, landslides and one unwelcome visitor.

A large python was found by Rohingya inside the Kutupalong refugee camp after a large deluge of rain last week. It was tied to a bamboo pole in one of the camp's tents and is still alive.

SBS News spoke to a humanitarian worker in Kutupalong - who asked to remain anonymous due to the volatile situation there - that confirmed the arrival of the reptile.

"I heard some commotion and half expected there to be an elephant in the camp again," the woman said, referring to stampeding wild elephants that have already caused more than 12 deaths in the camps.

"Some kids came to get me, they were excited to show off a huge python that had been caught and tied to a pole."

The python in Kutupalong refugee camp.
The python in Kutupalong refugee camp.
Twitter: Ro Mayyu Ali

Since a military crackdown in Myanmar last August, more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to southern Bangladesh in what the International Crisis Group called "one of the fastest refugee exoduses in modern times".

Aid agencies have been warning that the humanitarian catastrophe could get even worse in the coming months as the wet season brings heavy rains to the makeshift camps.

The region is forecast to receive 2.5 metres of rainfall from June to October - more than double what Sydney gets in a year.

According to the United Nations, torrential rain and winds have already caused at least 89 reported incidents in the camps, including 37 landslide incidents, that resulted in several injuries and one confirmed fatality – a child.

Flooding in the Kutupalong camp.
Flooding in the Kutupalong camp.

Based on aerial mapping of the settlements, the UN estimates that up to 200,000 refugees could be at risk of landslides and floods and still need to be moved to safer areas.

Aid group Save the Children has expressed concern over recent days of the welfare of younger refugees.

Whole tracts of camps have been inundated with water

Daphnee Cook, Save The Children

"The situation in the camps has gone from bad to worse. Whole tracts of camps have been inundated with water, with hundreds of people being forced to move to temporary shelters ... It's shocking to see how quickly the situation has deteriorated," said Save the Children's Daphnee Cook in Bangladesh.

The Kutupalong refugee camp before the wet season hit.
The Kutupalong refugee camp before the wet season hit.

"Along with landslides and floods, children are particularly vulnerable to diseases like serious respiratory infections and diarrhoea. Malnourished children are much more likely to die if they contract diarrhoea, sometimes within days."

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